Friday, December 11, 2015

A little wreath making

For years I've wanted to make my own wreaths.
I think it started when my older sister introduced me to this little shop in our home town called Welch Farm. It is unfortunately no longer open. It was a sweet farm store that had a room dedicated to just items made from dried flowers and other rustic style decorations. 

We fell in love with these wreaths made just of dried blushing pink hydrangeas. My sister gave me one for Christmas or a housewarming present, I can't remember. 
I loved this wreath and even though it was so fragile, it always moved with me adorning my front door or my bedroom door from apartment to apartment.
If someone would brush against this wreath, I'd hold my breath and clench my fists trying not to scream. 
It did finally kick the bucket though when it got acceidenly crushed during a move. 
I was so sad but knew it had a longer run than I thought it would. 

Ever since that time I've had a little bug to make my own wreaths out of other natural materials that I love.
Like these muscle shells from the beach just a few minutes walk from my house.

I collected them last April intending to make one for my son's room.
I have always loved this classic blue of the sea etched into these shells that scatter the Maine coast.

I used a $5.00 grapevine wreath from JoAnn Fabrics and a hot glue gun. I realized I had to sift through my pile to fine ones that were basicly the same the size and all going the same way. Because with mucsle shells there is a top and a bottom. Or a right and a left. Depending on howyou look at it.

I also wanted to make some winter wearths for all four of our door. Three for our house and one for my studio door. Everything in these wreaths I also found at JoAnn's. Though I realized that next time, I'm going to search for things on my property that have fallen on the ground.
I have a special spot in my heart for songbirds, especially cardinals. And lichens. And pine trees. The little trees and birds are not meant for outdoor decoriation, but I didn't care. I'll see how long they all last when our snow comes. In the spring I'll make something different. 
back door
studio door
all four together,

So many years have passed when I don't do any holiday or seasonal crafts/ activities and then I get really bummed out because I didn't plan or I was too busy. Making time to do things like this right around Thanksgiving really gets me in the spirit. 

Now, if only I can find time to make some salt ornaments....

What crafts put you in the mood for the holidays? 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Journey of a Yarn; the rainbow cap

5 years ago, my sister was expecting her 3rd baby. She asked me to create some of my rainbow yarn for a blanket. Her oldest, 4 then and with healing chicken pox, came over to spend the day with me and help prepare this special yarn for her future baby brother. 

I had the best day planned with my niece. It was filled with grilled cheese, tomato soup, and sharing my favorite Irish movie, Secret of Roan Inish. I just had to run to the store before hand to pick up the goodies. However, as I was leaving, my car died about 5 feet after I started driving. I then went carless for 2 years. It certainly made life more interesting but that's a story for another time. 

I loved doing this project with my niece as it's really kid friendly and even though she wasn't feeling her best, she was so into it. 
For the yarn, my sister requested mixed Bluefaced Leicester with silk which you can find here, my favorite local fiber shop, Portfiber. 

I love working with this fiber so much. With the grey and the silk mixed in, whatever you use for dye, it always looks so beautiful because of the multi textures. 

Dyeing rainbows is a lot of fun to do with roving. 
And because I wanted a very specific color placement, I used jars, which some call space dyeing. 
I think I dyed 8 oz or more. I may have dyed the roving in batches if that were the case. 
For the dyes I used 1 Kool-Aid packet of each:
yellow rite dye- the lemonade doesn't give a strong yellow
blue raspberry lemonade- be careful here. make sure the picture on the package shows a blue pitcher and not red!
and grape
oh! and strawberry sometimes to get that nice gradient inbetween the red and purple. 

I let my roving soak for a few hours. If it were just wool, it would have been 30 minutes or so. But silk takes much longer to absorb water. 

Lucy dumped each packet into the jars. With the yellow, I only sprinkled in a little bit because the pigment is so strong. 
With a tea kettle filled with just boiled water, I filled each jar about half way full. Lucy stuffed the roving in. I helped her by telling her when to stop stuffing so to keep the roving equal in each jar. I them topped each jar off with more water and with the end of a wooden spoon, she poked around each jar until the wool was completely submerged. We fiddled with each one to make sure color was swimming around the wool. 
After about half and hour- I don't like to wait longer than that because the wool soaks up the color so fast. I scooted the wool from each jar over into the next jar by about 2 inches so that as each color ends, it slightly bleeds into the next. This also gives you beautiful color gradiation. 

That's really all there is to it! I typically let these set for a day or until there is no colored liquid left. 
To make it go even faster, try this outside on a very sunny hot day and leave them in the sun. 
The red/cherry you can usually use again because there is so much pigment there (can you believe we used to drink this?!) With the purple, there will be blue color left which I always find amusing. But with the other colors, they usually get soaked up all the way. 

Once done dyeing, I gently pull up all the roving, squeeze and let soak in a room temperture bath, with a tiny bit of wool washing soap, like orvis paste. 
I then hang it dry. 

Once dry fully, I prepare for spinning. Because I wanted a long color repeat, I gently pulled the roving apart length wise so that I have continuous long pencil roving that started with red and ends with purple(or pink). Preparing your roving this way, makes it very easy to keep your spinning even. There is very little drafting you need to do and you can just let it flow from your fingers into a soft single. 

Once the yarn was spun, I wound it onto my knitty knotty (skein maker) and soaked it again (like I did for the roving). It helps set the twist of the yarn. 

My sister made a few items with this yarn and a little bit she had left over, went into a little cap for her middle child who is now 6. She recently passed that cap onto me for my baby. It was far to big for R's new head. So I frogged it, soaked the yarn again to get the knitted kinks out and started knitting a new hat for my babe. 

It took me 5 tries to get just the right fit. I've knit a ton of hats but hardly even knit baby hats. 
Living on an island with the wind we get, it was very important for me that he had a solid hat that covered his ears. 

I loved making this so much.
And you know what?
It still smells like Koolade!

And I love how this yarn has made it back to us in this full circle that's seen so much love between our two families. 
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